Whether you’ve only got 48 hours in Dubai or you have a longer Dubai stopover – the city is one of the best destinations to enjoy for short and long trips. Dubai is a city that never fails to impress – a juxtaposition of glitz and history, modernity and authenticity and one that teems with grandeur in every corner.
One thing I can tell you for sure is: you will never got bored. From walking down the historical Arabian souks, to reveling in the beauty of its lavish interiors, to going on a gastronomical journey – Dubai caters to all types of travelers. If you only have 2 days in Dubai, then you can still consider yourself lucky as you can fit in the top attractions in 48 hours.
If you’re only visiting Dubai on a 48-hour stopover, then my recommendation is to not treat it as such. Treat it as if you’re visiting a destination and make sure you tick off all the top attractions.
Here’s how to spend 48 hours in Dubai:
How to Spend 48 Hours in Dubai: Day 1
Getting to the center:
There are plenty of ways you could get to the center. You could:
- Take the metro (affordable option) and it will take you 24 minutes.
- Take the Dubai bus (cheapest option but takes an hour)
- You can also take a taxi.
- Private transfers from the airport.
TIP: Dubai airport is a busy one and taxi queues can be long. In order to make the most of your time, I recommend using the services of pre-booking your transfer online. You can Book Your Dubai Airport Transfer here. You can specify your exact time of arrival and you will also have direct contact with the driver in order to inform of any delays. I have used this services several time and not only in Dubai. The drivers are professional, the vehicles are clean and you are guaranteed to have a pleasant experience.
The most economical option, however, is to take the hop-on/hop-off bus for 1 day. This way you won’t be spending too much on transportation, you’ll get enjoy views of all of the Dubai Marina, see all attractions from the comfort of your own seat. The hop on hop off bus Dubai is both economical and a lot of fun.
Visit Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa is one of Dubai’s most symbolic attractions. Soaring into the skyline, the Burj is the tallest building in the world and is the perfect architectural feast to the eyes. Not only is it quite attractive to check out from outside, but I also recommend getting up to the 124th floor. If you do that by sunset, you’ll be met with panoramic vistas of Dubai, the golden hues of the sun reflecting unto the steel facades of nearby buildings and you’ll be the closest you can get to the clouds. Book you tickets online here.
Dubai Mall + Fountain
Most people don’t expect to have a mall as one of the attractions that they should check out in Dubai but Dubai Mall isn’t just another mall. Dubai Mall is one of the most famous attractions in the city and the largest mall there. There are plenty of things to do there:
- Shopping at any one of the hundreds of stores there (Gallerie Lafayette is always recommended).
- Enjoy the interiors of the mall.
- Spend time at Sega Republic.
- Ice-skate on an Olympic Ice Rink.
- Visit the Dubai Aquarium.
Now after you’re done shopping, it’ll be time to immerse yourself in the Dubai Fountain Show. While the show is magical during all hours of the day, there is something extra special about it during the evening hours.
– Saturday to Thursday – 1, 1:30 and 2 pm.
– Friday afternoon – 1:30, 2 and 2:30 pm.
Evening shows: 6-11 pm every 30 minutes.
Visit the Dubai Aquarium
Yes, there’s an entire aquarium inside of the Dubai Mall. Whether you are the biggest marine enthusiast out there or you’re not – the Dubai Aquarium is definitely worth a visit. You’ll find over 33,000 animals there to explore, you’ll learn different information about the different ecosystems there and have more of an adrenaline-inducing experience. If you want to get a little bit brave – you can try cage diving with sharks, diving with sharks, or for the less adventurous: have a glass boat ride amidst the marine animals. Book you tickets in advance.
Red Dune Safari with Sand boarding, Camel Ride & BBQ Options
Your Dubai experience will not be complete without a day in the desert. Whether you’re opting for a desert safari or you want to try something more active – I highly recommend spending some time in the desert. You can go on this tour which lasts for 4 to 7 hours and starts either at 10 am or 2:30 pm (so you can fit in some sightseeing before it.)
You will be able to visit the desert known as Lahbab – one of Dubai’s most remote deserts and you’ll get to experience the sheer grandeur of red sand dunes, desert landscapes, and spend a day amidst nature, adventure and learning all about the Arabian culture.
You’ll be able to try sand boarding, have a nice BBQ lunch, decorate your hands with the art of Henna tattoo artists and even dress up in Arabian clothes if you want.
Or – Deira Creek 5-Star Buffet Dinner Dhow Cruise
If you’re not feeling adventurous and you just want to chill, you can always try this evening tour starting at 9 pm. You can choose to have a private pickup organized, but I recommend going to Old Dubai and exploring the souk first then going on th boat cruise. Experience the dhow boat cruise, feast from a 5-star buffet, and get your hands henna-painted! Nothing really beats watching authentic folk dances while on a traditional dhow cruise – the ultimate Emirati experience.
How to Spend 48 Hours in Dubai: Day 2
Visit Dubai Marina in the morning
Start your day walking around the most luxurious par of Dubai – the Dubai marina. This is a place where modernity and nature blend together to create a great atmosphere. Walk between skyscrapers, watch the wooden dhow boats float effortlessly, and maybe even do some shopping.
You can also take this speedboat tour that will take you through Dubai’s best attractions: the Marina, Atlantic and Burj Al Arab. You’ll pass by the Atlantis hotel, surrounded by palm trees and the water, you’ll get to float between spectacular edifices and architecture, and you’ll get to explore the artificial man-made island: Palm Jumeirah.
Visit Miracle Garden
Dubai’s Miracle Garden is a place of 45 different flower species and is one of the best places you can wind down at. Floral installations, the sound of birds, the feeling of serenity….It’s a great break from the hustle and bustle of Dubai.
The Dubai Frame is a fairly new attraction that has quickly risen to fame and popularity. It’s open everyday from 9 am to 9 pm and has an entire exhibition that tells you how it has come to be. Check out the Past Dubai gallery, take the elevator up to the 48th floor and enjoy the viewing gallery and the views of Deira & Dubai Creek.
Souk & the Deira Cruise
Spend the end of your day walking around the oldest and most authentic part of Dubai, known as the Old Dubai. The souk is a place where heritage comes to life and is definitely worth exploring on your 2-day trip in Dubai.
2 days in Dubai is more than enough to get you acquainted with the city’s top attractions. You won’t have time to see it all but you will definitely have time to see the most important attractions and take part in a lot of activities – as long as you don’t treat your trip as a layover!